Getting round to things. Those days—or for me, weeks, months, years—when you don’t get done those things you really want or need to do. I’m not talking about ordinary, everyday, common-or-garden procrastination; this goes way beyond that. I’m talking about those things that haunt your mind—you know you need to get to them—but somehow you just don’t.
Have you got boxes in your attic/dungeon/guest bedroom that have been there since you moved in? Less than a year doesn’t count, btw. That’s still more or less new. I’m talking about the really old ones you never forget—their very presence lurks just beyond the fringes of your perception. Their soft siren-calls come to you in the dead of night… ‘Don’t you…forget about me…’ (thanks to Billy Idol for that one.)
I’ve got stories that have been waiting for revision since the mid-1990s. In fact, I probably have some from the 1980s, or even earlier but I’m too scared to look. The knowledge that, unless I act now, in a couple of years those dusty old scripts will be able to club together and buy me a silver anniversary card is enough of a prod to make me actually prise open the drawers and start pulling out all those yellowed pages. And start reading.
What was I afraid of? I’ve no idea. All I can say is, I’m reasonably happy with what I read. Not full-blown, “Wow, I’m The Most Brilliant Writer EVER!” happy, but a quietly confident, “I don’t suck as much as I thought, and I can absolutely do something with this” happy.
As I said a couple of years ago, that for me 2015 is the year of writing dangerously. But in the end that was only the start of it all, not just of a year of extra effort, but of a new way of looking at my life and my approach to writing. Some of the dust-covers have had to come off for that. And as I pull off the dust-covers, underneath I behold…new ideas, fresh thoughts…twenty, even thirty years old it’s true, but fresh and new, and still so, so me.
And the things that made me stumble and give up all those years ago—plot holes, problems with language and expression—now, solutions quickly present themselves, the difficulties erased by time, a fresh eye, and above all else, experience. Suddenly, as the kaleidoscope of my mind turns on these ideas, things begin to slot into place and a picture is formed.
Which shows, sometimes it is better to wait. It ain’t over till it’s over.